Monday, December 31, 2012

Quantifying the health and environmental benefits of wind power [and] natural gas

Abstract: How tangible are the costs of natural gas compared to the benefits of one of the fastest growing sources of electricity – wind energy – in the United States? To answer this question, this article calculates the benefits of wind energy derived from two locations: the 580 MW wind farm at Altamont Pass, CA, and the 22 MW wind farm in Sawtooth, ID. Both wind farms have environmental and economic benefits that should be considered when evaluating the comparative costs of natural gas and wind energy. Though there are uncertainties within the data collected, for the period 2012–2031, the turbines at Altamont Pass will likely avoid anywhere from $560 million to $4.38 billion in human health and climate related externalities, and the turbines at Sawtooth will likely avoid $18 million to $104 million of human health and climate-related externalities. Translating these negative externalities into a cost per kWh of electricity, we estimate that Altamont will avoid costs of 1.8–11.8 cents/kWh and Sawtooth will avoid costs of 1.5–8.2 cents/kWh.
Highlights
► This study compares the benefits of wind energy with natural gas.
► The Altamont Pass windfarm will avoid $560 million to $4.38 billion in externalities.
► The Sawtooth wind farm will produce about $18 million to $104 million in human health and climate benefits.
► Natural gas prices rise by 1.5–11.8 cents/kWh if they include the cost of such externalities.Full-size image (36 K) 
Fig. 1. Growth of the global wind energy market, 2000–2011. Source: REN21 (2012).

a U.S. Agency for International Development, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20004, USA 
b Vermont Law School, Institute for Energy and the Environment, South Royalton, VT 05068-0444, USA Tel.: +1 330 493 3461; fax: +1 404 385 0504. 
Energy Policy via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com  
Volume 53, February 2013, Pages 429–441
Keywords: Wind energy; Wind turbines; Wind power

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